Courtesy: Washburn Athletics
TOPEKA, Kan. The Ichabods earned the seventh seed in this year’s NCAA Central Region tournament and will play second-seeded Concordia-St. Paul Thursday in the first round of the tournament. Washburn is making its 11th straight trip to the NCAA tournament and 12th in school history.
Minnesota Duluth is the top seed in the region and will host all three rounds of the regional at Romano Gymnasium. The Bulldogs also hosted last year’s regional. Times for all matches will be announced early this week.
Washburn is 24-6 overall and finished tied for fourth in the MIAA at 16-6. The Golden Bears are the seven-time defending NCAA Division II national champions. They went 26-5 this year and were second in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference at 18-2.
The winner will play the winner of the No. 3 Nebraska-Kearney/No. 6 Southwest Minnesota State match on Friday. The regional championship match is Saturday. The winners of the eight regional tournaments will advance to the national quarterfinals in Louisville, Ky.
The other two matches in the Central Region on Thursday include No. 1 Concordia against No. 8 Arkansas Tech and No. 4 Central Missouri against No. 5 Wayne State (Neb.).
Washburn is 11-11 all-time in the NCAA tournament, 6-5 in the opening round and 9-7 in neutral sites. The Ichabods and Golden Bears have never met in the NCAA tournament but they have met three times in the regular season. Washburn won the first meeting in 2003 but has lost twice since then. The last was in in 2011.
The No. 7 seed is the lowest Washburn has been ranked entering a regional. The Ichabods were a No. 6 seed last year. They are 0-2 when facing the No. 2 seed and 1-4 overall as the underdog.
Concordia won its first of seven straight NCAA national championships in 2007 in Topeka when the Ichabods won the South Central Region and hosted the three rounds of the national tournament in Lee Arena. Washburn finished as a national semifinalist that year.
Washburn is ranked 13th in the AVCA national poll. Concordia is third and UMD is No. 2. Four of the top seven teams in the nation are from the Central Region.